How to say “YES” and make history

Just Say “YES”, It’s that simple!

Photo by Ben White

When asked to do something new, we often over rationalize. We tell ourselves why we can’t do it or how we don’t have what it takes. Sometimes the fear of failure holds us back. We say “NO” because we are afraid of failing at the new opportunity or challenge. Other times, it’s the shame that comes from failure that holds us back. We want to get it right the first time with no room for failure. Carol Dweck calls it having a fixed mindset. She prescribes a growth mindset instead — a mindset focused on learning and improving.

The idea of making one month in the year a “YES” month came from my friend and mentor Jokotade. A “YES” month is a month you decide to say yes to new opportunities, friendships, and appointments. You don’t give prior thought to whether you’ve got what it takes, you just say yes. The goal is to stretch yourself into your discomfort zone were you act with courage in the midst of your fears.

Opportunities are everywhere

Two weeks into my final project at The Iron Yard, I had group lunch with some of my classmates and instructor. As we waited for our food, my Instructor asked “would anyone like to teach a crash course tomorrow?”

The crash course explores Javascript programming basics including basic HTML and CSS concepts. The audience is usually prospective coding bootcamp students. Only teaching assistants with at least 2yrs of experience teach this course at The Iron Yard. Everyone on the table went quiet!

Say “YES” for a change

My initial reaction was to listen to the voice of fear in my mind. The script sounded like this. What if I mess up? What if I lose my train of thoughts? What if I do a terrible job? Then I remembered I was in my “YES” month and I wasn’t going back on my decision.

After much struggle, I turned to my instructor and said “YES! I will teach the crash course tomorrow”. I felt so excited and nervous at the same time. My instructor promised to prep me for the course. At the end of the prep session I realized I knew way more than I gave myself credit.

History was Made…

On the day of the crash course, I was so nervous like anyone else doing something new for the first time. A lot of my classmates were there to cheer me on. At the end of the lecture, I got a resounding ovation. I received lots of positive feedback from the attendees, and my peers. The crash course was such a huge success!

My instructor was so proud of me and in his own words:

“The attendees ate out of the palm of your hands, you did a fabulous job.” — Justin Richards

I became the first female student in my school to teach a Javascript crash course before graduation. I had only 5months of coding experience under my belt.

Wow! I made history that day by saying “YES” to a teaching opportunity. What if I didn’t say “YES”? What if I allowed the fear of failure and shame cripple me? What if I made the excuse of being to busy working on a demanding final project? Someone else would have made history that day.

Sometimes all it takes is saying “YES” to an opportunity. I’m glad I made a decision to say “YES”. I stretched beyond my comfort zone. I’m learning and improving everyday.

I wonder what opportunities you are passing up by not saying “YES”. Make this month your “YES” month and embrace the opportunities that come along.

You will never be in a perfect situation to make a perfect decision. Step into your discomfort zone. It’s an opportunity to stretch, learn and improve. — Chichi Ukomadu